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‘Been in limbo for too long’: Danny Drinkwater retires from football

Danny Drinkwater has announced his retirement from football. The 33-year-old midfielder was one of the stars of Leicester’s shock Premier League triumph in 2016, earning a big-money move to Chelsea the following summer.

However, he did not manage to establish himself as a first-choice player at Stamford Bridge and unsuccessful loan spells at Burnley and Aston Villa followed along with disciplinary problems.

He pleaded guilty to drink-driving after crashing his car in 2019, suffered an ankle injury in an incident outside a nightclub later the same year and head-butted then Villa teammate Jota on the training ground in March 2020. Drinkwater’s last appearances came on loan at Reading in 2021-22, following which his contract with Chelsea expired.

Speaking on the High Performance Podcast, he said: “It’s been a long time coming maybe, especially with the last year, but I think it’s time to officially announce it now. I think I’ve been in limbo for too long. I’ve been wanting to play but not getting the opportunity to play at a standard or a level where I felt valued. I’m happy not playing football but I’m happy playing football, so do I just shake hands with the sport?

“It’s all I’ve known. It’s been my life since I was six, seven years old. It was never going to be an easy thing. If I was playing week in, week out and I had to say I’ve got to stop, maybe through injury or through just age, not being able to get about the pitch like I’d like to, I think it would be trickier.”

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Drinkwater came through the Manchester United academy but did not make a first-team appearance before joining Leicester in 2012. He was called up for the first time by England in March 2016 and made three appearances but was one of three players cut from the squad for that year’s Euros.